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Show packs in chat and all-star ceilidh music

By Margaret Chrystall


Fergie Macdonald with Gary Innes

Eden Court

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IT was a warm, homecoming crowd packing Eden Court on Sunday for a night celebrating the talents of the maverick Ceilidh King himself Fergie Macdonald.

“I feel I’m right in the midst of my own friends!” he said to host, radio presenter and fellow Lochaber accordionistGary Innes at the start of a show packing in first half reminiscences and a second where a band of all-stars played Fergie’s favourite music from his 60-plus years on the road.

In his signature red socks, he shared stories of everything from his lifelong stammer to the audition that kickstarted his showbiz career, why he was banned by the BBC for over 20 years after playing his music his way, his alcoholism – many clues as to why he is a hero of the village hall ceilidh and a legend across the Highlands.

The occasionally hesitant speech and rich tones of a voice that has sung its way to number one in its day, make Fergie’s delivery unique, his natural comic timing adding to stories that seem as if they could only have happened to him – or “Fergie”, as he calls himself.

Favourites included shocking a packed gents loo with a quack’s recipe for curing his stammer or describing how a mike rising from the stage under his kilt had them rolling in the aisles.

The second half ran over, a celebration of his “ceilidh music West Coast-style with no folderols” as he earlier described the spontaneous, unscored music that earned his BBC ban.

The all-stars who joined him included fellow accordionists Gary Innes, Addie Harper and Fergie's son John, fiddlers Allan Henderson and Roddy Matthews, Sandy Meldrum on keyboards, Hugh MacCallum on drums, Alasdair Macleod on double bass, banjo player Colum Rua

“To hell with the time limit!” the 82-year-old yelled as jigs, slow airs, schottisches, Gaelic waltzes and many Fergie-composed tunes rolled on.

“We’re just having a ceilidh!” MC

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